Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Only 86 days until Halloween!

That time has come once again for me to decide what this year's project is going to me.  This year I don't really have too much of a choice in the matter as by popular request from previous years Trick or Treaters, I will be making the Mayor of Halloweentown.

Me? I am so honored!!

The number one reason I hadn't made him before was that I simply could not think of a way to make him three dimensional and to be able to store him somewhere. Our Halloween collection has begun to take up a considerable amount of space in our garage and the Frightful Fountain I made last year is large and in no way able to be broken down and stored in any way.  I hesitate to even admit this, but it rained last Halloween and I ended up dragging him inside to dry out by a window in the office and uh, he may still be standing there today.   I can always tell who has seen the Nightmare Before Christmas when they visit our home as I either hear, "Oh my gosh, is that from the NBC?" OR "Oh my gosh, WHAT IS THAT? Is it choking itself?"  :) 

Back to Mr. Mayor.  Because of the storage concerns and also due to where I plan to place him in my yard, I decided to make him out of plywood. Yes, he will be flat. *sad trombone*  But, I will paint both sides and obviously do his dual faces.  I'm still trying to decide if I want to be able to spin his head. (I do, I'm just not sure how to accomplish this exactly) October is a windy, rainy month where I live. 

The other thing I plan to do is to build more Halloween fencing.  I only had time to make two panels last year and I need about 20. I should be able to get a decent amount made this year since I don't think the mayor will take up too much time. 

More soon! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Frightful Fountain - Halloween 2012

Every year I let my kids choose which character they want me to attempt to make from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Last Halloween they chose the Frightful Fountain and so what follows is my best attempt at a tutorial on how I made mine.  Here is a picture of a small Disney replica of it:

My biggest concern was figuring out what to use for his head. Every year we buy this big plastic barrel of packets of Halloween pretzels from Costco.  The brand is UTZ and I think we paid around $15 for all the pretzels.  The shape and size worked out perfectly for his head.

Whenever I am recreating a character, I take the one object that isn't changeable size wise, i.e. this bucket for its head or in the case of the Jack Skellington gates, the hula-hoop/pumpkin face.  I print up a photo of the character, measure each part and then I do a mentally taxing math process which tells me what size to cut all of the other parts. Example, if the head measures 2 inches on the paper and the actual head is 24 inches, then I know for every inch I measure on the paper character translates to one foot on the piece I am building.  Of course it NEVER works out to one paper inch equals one foot of character which is why I describe that whole process and mentally excruciating.  

 Here is the head after I cut off the top lip and part of the sides to create the mouth. I cut a hole in the bottom just wide enough to fit the PVC in and then its held into place with a T connector. I cut short lengths to go into either side of the T to stabilize the head. 

 I found this stuff at Home Depot, its like those foam sleeves you by to put over your exposed outdoor pipes in the winter except much thinner.  

 Here is a side by side comparison of the foam sleeves and the backer rod.  I used an exacto blade to slice halfway down the backer rod so that I could then slide it over the exposed edges of Frighty's mouth.

 It's hard to see in this photo but I am just sliding it right over the exposed edges of what will be the mouth.  I used styrofoam glue to adhere it and some pieces of tape to hold it in place while the glue dried.  I used some of the same backer foam to create the eyes. The horns are two foam wands that I found at Target in the Halloween department for $1 each. They are called foam glow wands and they had a green glow stick in each one. I cut the bottoms off and pulled out the glow stick part.  My goal is to keep everything as light as possible as I am concerned that too heavy a head could cause the PVC frame to bend.  The teeth are cut from white foam board ($1 for a poster board size sheet of it)  The neck is PVC and then covered with a swim noodle (called a Funoodle, used for swimming) The funoodles were also $1 each because I bought them at the end of summer.  I used two of them.

Here is where I would like to suggest that you WAIT to glue the teeth until AFTER you have painted the inside of his mouth black. In the movie, Frighty's teeth are white but have black sides and black gums so after I got black spray paint all over the teeth, I just went over them with some white paint.

Next I assembled the PVC for his arms (pictured left) and the wings (pictured right) 

Arms and Wings

Wire bent to shape the wings and then duct taped to the PVC. I then covered the entire wings with duct tape and glued the foam backer rod onto the wings. 

 Here is the basic frame of the FF. Next step was adding the foam swim noodles and also the foam pipe insulation and more duct tape. I used an entire roll of duct tape on this guy because I did not want any part of him expanding from underneath the papier mache. 

Here he is after I wrapped him in the foam and spray painted the inside of his mouth with flat black spray paint.  If you think he is not looking too good at this point, I completely agree. I went back to my paper photo and did more measuring (and more math, ugh) and realized I needed to add more mass to his neck and abdomen. 

Next up, papier mache!  I was really nervous about this step because I had never done  papier mache before but thanks to the ingenious Scott Stoll from Stolloween.com, I followed his tutorials and used his master recipe and it was so much easier than I expected it to be. Easier, but also a lot more time consuming than I realized.  Papier Mache is a patient man's art.    Above is the head after a few layers and below is the body.  

While I waited for the layers to dry, I started work on the green stream of vomit he spews out. Beautiful imagery, no?  The best idea I could come up with was to cover a gift wrap tube with parchment paper and then I began the process of hot gluing straws together around the tube.  I bought 100 light green and dark green straws from Walmart and then a huge box of clear straws from Costco.  Total straw count 350. 

Before I started gluing the straws, I mixed some bright green acrylic paint with water and poured it down through a bunch of straws that were rubber banded together.  Acrylic paint dries pretty fast so I just kept pouring it through until I got the amount of coverage I wanted and then sat them in front of a fan to dry completely. 

Once I finished gluing them all together, I hooked the end of the green Christmas lights onto the end of the cardboard gift wrap tube and then pulled the tube out from the opposite end. If you're careful, you will now have a hollow tube of straws with a string of green lights inside! 

You will also likely have hundreds of thin long dried glue strands all over your green straw tube making it look messy. Get out your hair dryer and go over them and they will melt away into oblivion!  Not TOO hot though or you'll melt the glue that's holding your tube together.  

More layers of papier mache and then a layer of cardboard scales that I cut out of empty cereal boxes. I ended up using hot glue to anchor the cardboard down and also to go over any seams or edges of newspaper that were sticking up.  While that was drying, I added a coat of grey primer to the head, painted the teeth white and added some shading around the eyes.

Papier Mache complete and after a few coats of BEHR paint and primer in Cathedral Grey. The hands were made using the backer rod foam, wire and some hot glue.

Next up, a can of Rustoleum stone texture spray paint in Stone Grey. I could still see the paper lines from the newspaper and the hot glue so I thought textured paint would remedy that.  This stuff is a bit pricey, $10 for one can. (I don't know why picture is sideways)

 Close up of the textured spray on the scales:

 And a closer shot of the head, hands and neck:

Next up is the base of the fountain!  I got a really late jump on starting this guy so I was pressed for time.  As a result, the exterior pool part of the fountain is painted cardboard. I wanted to make it out of foam blocks and ultimately will but it just won't be on this years display.  

 I will be back to add more photos later! 

Jack Skellington's Gates

The inspiration
For Halloween 2011 I decided to attempt to make Jack Skellington's gates from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas.  My plan was to make them entirely out of PVC pipe and then build a wood stand to hang them off of.  I will attempt to write a tutorial on how I did this but unfortunately, I am always forgetting to stop and photograph my steps. Luckily, there isn't a whole lot that is really needed visually to explain how I made it as it is a pretty simple build. 

The supplies needed are PVC pipe (I used half inch as I wanted to keep the weight as low as possible) PVC connectors, a child's hula hoop, adhesive for the PVC, hot glue gun & sticks, empty water bottles, black pipe cleaners and about 4 cans of flat black spray paint. (I use the .97 cent ones sold at Walmart as I think it is the best spray paint in that price range and I prefer it over Home Depot and Lowes generic brands)  You will also need something to hold up the gates - I used two 2x4s and bungee cords to attach the gates temporarily to my stone pilars but if you want it free standing in your yard, you'd need more wood than just two. 

 Somewhere I have my original design plans with the exact number of connectors, PVC pipe, the lengths of each piece, etc.  When I get a little more time, I will come back here and edit that information in.  If you're reading this and plan to build the gates, post a comment below and I will make sure to get them added (because if its 2013 and the info isn't here, it's because I forgot to come back and add it) 

I am going to sum up the process of the build because its basically just like tinker toys, you piece all the connectors and PVC together.  For the eyes and the top triangles, I used 3 pipe cleaners twisted together, hot glued and then spay painted. Use black pipe cleaners. You can see I used orange because I ran out of black and it was a real chore to get the paint onto every little fiber to make it black. 

The mouth was made out of water bottles that I cut the tops and bottoms off of and rolled them into tubes and hot glued them to stay. I threaded some wire in the center, hot glued the ends and attached them to the hula hoop. 

Note that the hula hoop is child sized. A regular hula hoop would have either made the gates humongous or the face would have been out of proportion to how the official gates look.

I will add more pictures of the hinge mechanism (again, all PVC) and the stands that I built.

Due to the curved top of the gates, I wasn't able to use PVC connectors to join the vertical bars that connect to the curved top. My solution was to cut those bars at an angle and then hot glue the seams. So far they have held up great. (I did the same process for where the other vertical bars met the bottom of the pumpkin circle)

 The gates are 8.5 feet tall, not hung.  Once hung, they are just over 9 feet tall. They are operational and I sort of wish I could leave them up year round. 

 The cats were something I made in a hurry because I ran out of time (I always run out of time with Halloween stuff) They are made out of black foam board and wire.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Haunted Dollhouse

My latest project is something I have wanted since I was a little girl. It's a dollhouse. But wait! It's not just any dollhouse, it's a HAUNTED DOLLHOUSE *dramatic music* I wasn't quite cool enough as a kid to have wanted a haunted dollhouse, back then, I just wanted the Strawberry Shortcake house or a Barbie dreamhouse but somewhere along my aging and over 100+ trips inside the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, I came up with the idea to turn a dollhouse into a haunted one.

My awesome husband bought me this dollhouse kit at Hobby Lobby so this is the model I will be attempting to construct. It is the Alison Jr. model and you can use the 40% off coupon for it!
Mine will not be pink. When I got online (God I love the internet, you under 3o year olds have no idea how isolated life was for us over 30s growing up. We had to go to the library or magazines for information and then spend time outside doing stuff instead of getting to read 3,000 pages of tutorials and cat pictures and finding other hilarious people that like the same weird stuff you like)

On that note, I was quick to find out to my surprise that I am not the only person on earth to have the genius idea to make a haunted dollhouse. In fact, Jenny Larson, a.k.a. The Bloggess, has one! If you're reading this and you don't know who she is, click here and go there because she's really funny and her dollhouse is amazing.

So, that's what I am up to craft wise these days. I hope to take pictures as I build it, starting with tonight.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Funny pictures that make me laugh

For your enjoyment (since you are clearly bored to have ended up here on my once a year updated blog, LOL) I present totally random pictures that I have on my hard drive that always at least make me smile, if not giggle. In no particular order:

Struck by Lightning Halloween Costume

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lainey Neutron, Baby Genius

Separated at birth: Lainey and Jimmy
Note: I didn't make her hair look like that for the picture, her hair always looks like that unless I make it not.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Merry February Christmas!

Christuary? Ah well look it takes me forever to upload photos because I am super busy. And also lazy. Here's a picture of my little one in her Santa suit. (She had booties that matched too)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I hate you Nicolas Cage!

You bastard. I will never get those two hours back that you robbed me of watching that horrific "movie" you called The Wicker Man. I'm seriously mad.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

So yeah, I've been MIA...

WOW did I forget how time consuming a newborn is!! (File this under the category of Things Only a Moron Doesn't Know)

We were, unfortunately, hit with some sad news about six days after my daughter's birth. Our sweet baby girl tested positive for a genetic disorder called Medium chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase or MCAD for short. Since I'd feel strange NOT talking incessantly about her disorder and at the same time I don't want to turn this blog into a MCAD site, I decided to start a separate site regarding her condition that you can link to at: http://newbornscreening.blogspot.com/

As of right now, that site is pretty much barren since I have had no time to devote to anything but my four children.

I may also disable this site completely and start up a new blog over on Yahoo. Basically, I am a barely functioning computer blogger and I know very little about page/web building etc. I need idiot proof page building features and Yahoo seems to have a few things that this one does not.

That all said, I must close and attend to my baby girl. Thank you to all of you reading that have sent me your prayers and continued wishes for my baby girls continued health.


Friday, November 03, 2006


SHE'S HERE!!! After a long (for me) labor - 11 hours of solid back labor, my beautiful baby girl and fourth child is here!

At 2:09am on October 28th, 2006 this 7 pound 11 ounce baby girl was born. Stretching out a lengthy 20 inches, she is tiny enough to fit inside a shoebox! (and no, I didn't try it)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Tick Tock Tick Tock... When will she be here? MAH BACK HURTS!!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006


It's 4 something am and I cannot sleep. Yet another fun tidbit of the final weeks of pregnancy, no position is comfortable, can't fall asleep yet I am constantly exhausted. Ah well at least I can get a good nights sleep once I give birth, right? Or not. Oh well.

I have been having contractions off and on since Tuesday. Nothing regular but the past two days I have been having low backache so whatever that means.

My dear husband is switching jobs next week! We are all about making all our life altering changes all at once over here. Seriously though, this new job was really too good to pass up, its a bit more money with a lot more opportunity for advancement. The company that recruited him and kept offering more and more to entice him to come over, including two weeks paid off paternity leave after only working there probably a week!

This is a bit embarrassing to admit but as the birth of my fourth baby approaches, I find myself actually really nervous and scared about making it through labor and delivery. I honestly have no idea why, but there it is. My first I was not allowed an epidural and that birth was nightmarish. The second I got an epidural, but I was literally at 10 cm by the time he pushed the meds in. (I had been prepped and had it inserted but he was tied up in a C-section so by the time he got back to me they were breaking down the bed and the nurse told him to nevermind. God bless that man because he gave me the meds anyway and my first born son came into this world without my feeling any pain!) My third... the guy pretending to be skilled in anethesia tapped my spinal fluid... Ugh, it was not a fun time. That birth physically really tore me up and it was a long recovery. Five years later (and older), I am starting to remember why I am a tad afraid of this next one.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Well what do you expect? I'm 8.5 months pregnant and have the memory of Dory from Finding Nemo. Honestly, I think I actually forgot I had a blog until the other day.

Things around here have been so flipping busy that I don't even have time to update them all with a synopsis. Well maybe I do - My husband is having issues with his work sending him out of town CONSTANTLY and then making him work 16 hour days with NO days off. I am going batty carting three kids back and forth to school at three separate starting times and dismissal times and then on Thursdays, its a whole DIFFERENT schedule! Honestly, with my memory at the end of the day if I have three kids in the house, I'm congratulating myself. My only solace at this point is that the fourth one is in utero so I can't lose her but I seriously fear misplacing her once she's free. I swear I did homework while in school and college yet every night I sit down with the kids to do hours more. Really gets old after a while.

Normal typical daily mothering stuff complaints go here.

My friend who was due three weeks before I am had her baby yesterday so I am officially on notice that I have 3-5 weeks before the same fate befalls me. I have to get all the stuff I have been putting off! (diapers, blankets, binks, nursing pads, nursing bras, washcloths, you name it...)

Hopefully I will be back with updates assuming I don't get lost and/or forget again.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Can you hear this?

You are in your twenties
You can still hear reasonably well and you can play this without my old fart colleagues hearing it which makes you feel kinda good.

The highest pitched ultrasonic mosquito ringtone that I can hear is 15.8kHz
Find out which ringtones you can hear!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Here come the pounds

Last month sometime, my husband bought this shoebox size box of Extreme Strawberry Sourbelts from Costco. My kids have been snacking on them and I finally decided to try them. DAMN those things are GOOD!!!

I just ate nine of them. A serving size is four, but four has 110 calories! I basically just ingested two Cokes worth of sugar! I am going to blow up like a walrus for sure now. Its like that episode of the Simpsons when Bart gave the Flanders boys pixie sticks and they became sugar junkies.

Its going to be all downhill for me from here, I just know it. I am going to wake up one of these days on the floor surrounded by empty wrappers and Coke cans. Then I will give birth to a giant fat baby.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Senseless vent o' the day

Without going into the irrelevant details, last month I started getting wrong numbers on my cell phone. ALL FOR THE SAME PERSON. Apparently some freaking moron got a new cell phone and wrote the number down wrong but then gave it out to about 3/4 of the state of California because EVERY day someone calls my phone asking for this guy.

I thought after about the 30th time that it was a joke, like people saying, lets call this number and keep asking for this dude to make this lady nuts but the people that call are all different, from different numbers and its almost always business related. They are also always very nice and polite so I can't even get any validation from yelling at them, after all, not their fault.

I just checked my voicemail to hear two messages asking if Mr Jerk Face would share his meeting on Friday and to call her back. The second said basically the same thing, but a different person. OK people, if you put on your listening ears, when you get my voicemail, it says you have reached SLIGHTLY DRAMATIC (ok really it says my actual name) Who the heck then leaves a message? I am going to find this guy and get his actual phone number and then I am going to ask everyone I know to start calling him asking for someone else. I want to see how he likes getting wrong numbers that use up all his allotted minutes all day long.

Someone needs a nap. (That would be me)